Have you ever tried to take an adorable photo of your pet only to realize it was blurry or too dark? Maybe you tried again and again to get your energetic pup to stay still with that cute face he was making, but then those many blurry attempts just ended up in your trash folder.
Our pets are a part of our family, and we should be able to capture their personalities and adorable faces in photos we can cherish for years to come! It takes some practice and a little thought, but rest assured, you CAN photograph your pets and photograph them well. For part 1 of this series, we’re going to discuss 4 key components that will help you successfully photograph your pets.
Lighting is EVERYTHING when it comes to photography. It applies to every photo you take. This is probably the most important takeaway and something to pay close attention to when photographing your pet. Good lighting makes or breaks a photo. When photographing your pet, always look for big sources of natural light. The best lighting is often outside. However, stay away from harsh sunlight. It will leave you and your pets squinting, along with unflattering shadows on your faces.
When outside, try to find an area with “open shade.” Open shade is simply a spot where the light is still bright, but where a tree or building is casting a big shadow that blocks the harsher sunlight. Place your pet at the end of the shadow, not directly under the tree or it will be too dark! In the two photos below, you can see the one on the left has harsh shadows across Paisley’s face, then the one on the right has her sitting in a patch of shade, but the light is even, bright, and flattering.
TIME OF DAY
While you can photograph your pet at any time of the day as long as good lighting is available, there are some prime times to take photos. Early in the morning as the sun begins to rise is a great time to photograph your pet in order to get even lighting. The same applies for late in the day as the sun is setting. This is called “Golden Hour.” It’s always the most flattering light, and you can photograph pretty much anywhere since shadows are soft and the light is not harsh. The photo on the left was taken at sunrise and the photo on the right was taken at sunset.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
The best locations for photographing your dog are places that have pleasing, distraction-free backgrounds, such as a pretty green park or a fun downtown wall. The beach makes a beautiful backdrop as well! You will also want to keep in mind that your dog can be easily distracted, so choose a spot away from people and other animals if you want to get their attention easily. Treats always help, but more on that later!
INDOOR VS. OUTDOOR PHOTOS
While outdoor photos will always be easier to capture when it comes to lighting and location, indoor photos can really show off your pet in their natural habitat. They’re more likely to be at rest or calm at home, which creates really sweet photos. The rules still apply, though! Make sure to find a spot near your biggest window for the brightest, softest light. Most often, morning light in the home is best! Remove distractions from the background, like too many toys lying around or unfolded blankets. The simpler the background, the better!
We’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to photographing your pets! We can’t wait to share more tips and tricks, but for now, start putting into practice some of the basics. Look for that good light and distraction-free backgrounds, and you’ll have your pet looking like a professional model in no time!
Markie & Paisley
Markie Walden is a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in South Carolina. Markie and her husband, Rob, love spending time with their pup, Paisley. She is an energetic and loving yellow Labrador Retriever who brings joy everywhere she goes! When not off photographing her wonderful clients, Markie loves capturing Paisley in photos.
See Markie’s pup, Paisley, also on Instagram!